Who? – Havant & Waterlooville Football Club
What? – FA Cup Upsets 2007/08
Where? – Around the U.K.
When? – September 2007 – January 2008
How? – A change of manager at the start of the 2007/08 season saw Ian Baird leave the Hawks after they had missed out on promotion through the play-offs in a semi-final defeat to Braintree Town. In came Shaun Gale to take reign of one of the best runs of a non-league side in the FA Cup of the 00s decade.
Havant & Waterlooville started their FA Cup journey with a trip to Bognor Regis and in front of a crowd of just over 400, secured a 2-1 win before taking on Fleet Town in the Third Qualifying Round at home and again winning 2-1 before a comfortable 3-0 win over Leighton Town with a crowd under 400.
Having made it through three qualifying rounds, the Hawks had secured a place in the draw for the First Round proper and were pulled out to face Conference Premier side York City. The trip to the north was a success as Havant & Waterlooville managed a narrow 1-0 victory in front of over 2,000 fans and securing a spot in the FA Cup Second Round.
A slightly shorter trip but a greater opponent were drawn as the Hawks were tasked with overcoming Notts County at Meadow Lane, and in another tight affair the Conference South side were able to cause another upset by keeping a clean sheet and Tony Taggart managed to put one past the League Two goalkeeper and create history for the club by making the Third Round in front of nearly 4,000 fans.
With the success of the Conference South side in the competition, the prize money increased further and further, as a place in the Third Round had just bagged the Hawks £40,000 to add to the £58,000 already from the previous rounds in the competition which goes a long way in helping with the day-to-day running and general expenses of a non-league club like Havant & Waterlooville.
Swansea City were the side drawn home and the 192-mile trip for Havant & Waterlooville, who were averaging mid table in the league, to the Welsh side who were competing in the Championship was fully deserved, and a goal from the dangly part-time striker and cult hero Rocky Baptiste in the 87th minute saw the Swans red-faced and forced to a replay in front of 8,700 fans at the Liberty Stadium.
The replay, set for Wednesday 16th January 2008, made for one of the greatest upsets in the competitions history as the Hawks put four past the Welsh club in a frantic game that finished 4-2 thanks to goals from Baptiste and Jamie Collins, a player who has since been involved in major FA Cup upsets with Sutton United, and Havant & Waterlooville became the last non-league club in the competition.
A dream draw was in the pipeline for the southern part-timers and it came to fruition as Havant & Waterlooville’s success in the competition earned them a memorable trip to Anfield to face Liverpool. Over 42,000 fans were packed into the red of Merseyside and the contingent of small Hawks fans who were able to get a ticket witnessed magic as they didn’t once, but twice take the lead through Richard Pacquette and an own goal from Martin Skrtel.
It would be the giant killing of a lifetime in the end as a Yossi Benayoun hat-trick was capped off alongside a late goal from Peter Crouch to add to the equaliser in the first half from Lucas Leiva, but it was without doubt not comfortable for the recent Champions League finalists and there starting lineup and changes of bringing on Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard showed that level of respect to their opposition.